Which conditions are included in the differential diagnoses of pediatric constipation?

Updated: Dec 14, 2018
  • Author: Stephen M Borowitz, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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The differential diagnosis of childhood constipation can be extensive and may include Hirschsprung disease (ie, congenital megacolon), spinal or neuromuscular abnormalities (eg, spinal muscular atrophy, tethered cord, Currarino triad [rectal stenosis, hemi sacrum, presacral mass], cerebral palsy [static encephalopathy]), hypothyroidism, anal stenosis, imperforate anus with fistula, anterior displacement of the anus (this is a controversial diagnosis), allergy or sensitivity to cow's milk, and celiac disease. Other conditions to consider include mitochondrial disorders, neuronal intestinal dysplasia, and prune-belly syndrome.

Fortunately, in most cases in which an underlying condition causes constipation, other stigmata of the disorder point to diagnosis. For example, constipation is rarely the only symptom of hypothyroidism.

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